“This speaker takes the Echo model’s audio high quality to an entire new degree.”

  • Class-leading bass
  • Slick and easy setup
  • Dolby Atmos and 360 Actuality Audio help
  • Giant, sprawling soundstage
  • All of the Alexa smarts
  • Mid-range often muffled
  • Brittle contact to lighter devices
  • 3D music nonetheless in restricted provide

This assessment was final up to date by Digital Traits editor John Velasco on 8/11/2020.

Amazon’s new Echo Studio sensible speaker isn’t simply good — at instances, it’s downright excellent. It’s additionally one of many few sensible audio system you should purchase that truly competes with the Sonos One. It does so, partly, by providing spectacular options you merely gained’t discover in another sensible speaker available on the market, not least of which is its shocking inclusion of Dolby Atmos help.

Even placing the Echo Studio in the identical sentence because the One is proof of simply how far Amazon has are available the previous couple of years. With merchandise just like the Studio and the brand new Echo Buds, Amazon has confirmed it could possibly not be overlooked of the audio dialog. Shifting into the premium vary has established its status as a severe contender for audiophiles.

In actual fact, with the Studio’s 3D soundstage, and a burgeoning new Amazon ecosystem to feed it, Amazon is beginning its personal dialog that different speaker makers are positive to hitch. Boasting a sticker worth of $200, it’s undeniably extra expensive than the corporate’s subsequent new speaker, the all-around Amazon Echo (third gen). In a method, it appears to be like as if it’s Amazon who’s setting the pattern this time in the case of premier sensible audio system.

Roll out the barrel

With a big, rounded physique and what appears to be like like an outsized CD feeder minimize via the bottom, the Echo Studio strikes a novel profile. It’s not off-putting by any means, and its acoustic material exterior affords some cachet, however it’s bigger than the Sonos One and Apple’s HomePod by a large margin. The acquainted Echo LED halo on the Studio’s topside is vast sufficient to truly match an angel’s head.

There’s good motive for the Studio’s dimension. It’s loaded with {hardware}, together with twin 2-inch drivers on the sides, a 1-inch tweeter on the entrance, and a whopping 5.25-inch down-firing woofer to blast out bass. There’s yet one more 2-inch driver on board as properly, this one dealing with upward to the ceiling to assist create the hemispheric immersion for which 3D sound codecs like Dolby Atmos and Sony’s new 360 Actuality Audio system are prized. Extra on that later.

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Alongside the Studio’s round topside are management keys, together with the Motion button for manually calling Alexa (in case you don’t wish to name the speaker with the “Alexa” command), quantity keys, and my private favourite, a mute key that turns that rainbow-blue Alexa LED Darth Vader pink, assuring the speaker is just not listening to you.

As somebody with a pure aversion to permitting listening units in my dwelling, the pink circlet is a comforting reminder that my conversations are secure. It’s additionally a part of an ongoing effort by Amazon to revive religion in its discretion.

Like all Echo audio system, a microphone array inside the cupboard permits for voice activation through the voice command “Alexa” (or just a few different cues), whereas additionally permitting for acoustic calibration to regulate the speaker’s sound signature for wherever it’s positioned.

Prepared, set, stream

Sonos, lengthy the undisputed king of easy speaker setup, has actual competitors. Establishing the Studio significantly couldn’t be simpler. Sorry, Sonos. They discovered it from watching you.

After putting in the Alexa app in your cellphone, comply with the on-screen directions, and also you’ll be streaming very quickly. You possibly can rapidly add your most popular streaming service, together with Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, and, in fact, Amazon Music (amongst others).

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It’s not simply the setup that’s intuitive. Amazon’s Alexa app makes it simple to regulate fundamental audio preferences, management playback, and hook up with different units, from an Echo subwoofer to different Echo audio system for a multiroom speaker system.

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Once more, the app feels rather a lot like Sonos, making it easy to make use of and, in my expertise, way more secure and intuitive than Google House. I additionally like the truth that, in contrast to Sonos merchandise, you’ll be able to simply hook up with the Studio from different apps, together with over Spotify Join.

There are extra methods to attach than simply Wi-Fi. The Echo Studio affords Bluetooth connection in a pinch, and behind the speaker, you’ll discover a dual-use 3.5mm/Toslink Optical connection to connect with a TV or different machine.

You possibly can’t decode Dolby Atmos movies over Optical connection, sadly, however there’s a workaround. When you’ve received a more recent Hearth TV machine, you’ll be able to pair the Studio to it to stream Dolby Atmos content material from choose apps.

It’s a reasonably particular use case, and it means you’ll be able to’t get Atmos to the speaker from the biggest supply at current; 4K Blu-rays. Nonetheless, when you can actually arrange the Echo Studio as a soundbar surrogate, that’s not one of the simplest ways to put it to use on your cash. Moreover, Amazon has different plans in thoughts for its new 3D speaker.

Alexa issues

Earlier than we get to the audio goodies, for these new to the sensible speaker world, it’s price speaking about simply how a lot Amazon’s Echo line, together with the Studio, can do. From connecting and controlling a sensible dwelling system to checking the climate, procuring, and tons of different sensible dwelling expertise, there’s lots to discover. In actual fact, the Alexa app has an entire part of recent and previous expertise to strive.

These embrace controlling the speaker’s playback along with your voice, which is straightforward and works higher nowadays than even a yr or two in the past. The speaker had few stumbles when put via its paces, even with music blasting. Utilizing Spotify, the Studio appeared to know what I wished to hearken to as a rule.

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As a part of the Echo household, the Studio may also do issues most third-party Alexa audio system can’t, like making intercom calls all through your private home over your Echo assortment. Nevertheless, the Sonos One can communicate each Alexa and Google.

Amazon Music steps up

You possibly can’t discuss concerning the Echo Studio with out mentioning Amazon Music, as each elements are essential to Amazon’s plans to chop into the lead of Spotify and Apple Music.

Earlier this fall, Amazon introduced it was including high-resolution music to its subscription music service for simply $5 further. That undercuts the worth of all such competing providers, whereas including one thing Apple and Spotify don’t have in any respect.

Simply as essential for our functions, together with “tens of millions” of tracks at as much as 24bit/192kHz decision, choose songs are blended (or remixed) in Dolby Atmos and 360 Actuality Audio. Dolby and Sony look like going all-in on their new plans, too, including main studio partnerships.

Chills at 360 levels

The largest query I had after Amazon revealed the Echo Studio in its most up-to-date Alexa product extravaganza was easy. What does Dolby Atmos in a sensible speaker even imply?

Most Atmos methods encircle you in a barrage of audio system to create the 360-degree audio impact, together with at the least two up-firing audio system to bounce hold forth the ceiling. Even mentioning Atmos for a modest sensible speaker appears audacious. However after monitoring down the few tracks out there on Amazon Music (which fortunately has a delegated 360-audio playlist), I used to be impressed by what this speaker can do.

It gave me one thing I’ve by no means had from a $200 hunk of plastic. Chills.

The primary music I pulled up was Elton John’s Rocket Man. At first, it was just some slide results billowing out like a sonic aura above the speaker. However because the music ramped up, the tune’s spacey synths started to broaden from the highest of the speaker and off the partitions, ultimately blooming right into a cloud of swirling sound on the entrance of the room.

Whereas the Studio couldn’t totally immerse me, it gave me one thing I’ve by no means had from a $200 hunk of plastic: Chills.

Stage vs signature

Whereas the side- and up-firing drivers are paramount to the Studio’s 360 methods, the speaker’s finest asset for day by day listening must be it’s highly effective, authoritative bass. Any massive speaker can get boomy, with Google’s Max one of many prime examples. However the Studio’s bass isn’t simply huge. It’s clear, tight, and well-controlled.

The second music on Amazon’s 360 playlist was Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings, and whereas I’m not a Grande superfan, I used to be impressed by the taut, jackhammer-bass the Studio reproduced because the beat hit within the refrain. That hefty bass mixed with the bubbling 360 soundstage to make for a superb trip all through the playlist.

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That stated, the Studio isn’t excellent. As a result of simply the only tweeter up entrance, the speaker has a bit of hassle in the case of delivering element and readability within the midrange, particularly on vocals. It might additionally get tinny within the treble when fed lighter mixes.

In that regard, it offers up floor to the Sonos One, and Apple’s HomePod, too. That’s evident if you transfer away from 360 and high-resolution tracks. And let’s face it, most of us are caught with compressed music in the case of day by day listening.

You possibly can coax extra midrange readability by disengaging the Studio’s Stereo Spatial Enhancer, which actually tends to suffocate the midrange on some tracks, however this additionally brightens the higher registers, often unpleasantly. I discovered backing the treble down within the settings helped.

Regardless, the Studio’s sound signature takes a again seat to the sleek, wealthy, and detailed sound of the Sonos One. As well as, the Studio’s 3D results are dependent in your lounge setup (particularly your partitions and ceiling), and 3D-mixes are restricted at current. However, the Sonos One’s soundstage and bass are each extra restrained and compact in comparison with the sprawling Studio.

Guarantee

Amazon’s Echo Studio affords a one-year restricted guarantee, and you should purchase an additional yr.

Attempt these new options

Alexa simply retains getting smarter, due to frequent updates that broaden her toolkit. Whereas there are some basic options it’s best to positively find out about, there are new methods that grow to be out there every month.

Wellness Ideas

Working from dwelling has its challenges, particularly when it pertains to well being and wellness. Alexa might help by offering some helpful wellness suggestions. To listen to them, simply say, “Alexa, what’s my wellness tip of the day?”

Group dialog for your whole units

Getting somebody’s consideration in one other room will be difficult, particularly when you have children who routinely crank the music of their rooms. Now you can conduct group conversations utilizing Alexa’s Drop In function, the place you’ll be capable to hook up with different Echo units. Basically, it’s similar to an intercom system.

Get your reminders on all units

You possibly can at all times keep up-to-date along with your reminders due to a brand new function that may play them throughout your whole Alexa units. With a purpose to allow this, it’s essential choose the Announce on all units beneath Settings > Reminders inside the Alexa app.

Every day Music Choose

Uninterested in the identical playlist or carousel of songs taking part in in your Alexa machine? Then try the day by day music choose function that may present day by day music suggestions from Amazon Music. All it’s essential say is “Alexa, play the Every day Music Choose” and a brand new artist will robotically select a music, album, or playlist.

Our take

One of the best sensible speaker Amazon has ever made delivers on its promise, combining with Amazon Music to supply a brand new strategy to hear. Add in best-in-class bass and stable sound throughout the board, and the Echo Studio is without doubt one of the most attractive new sensible audio system available on the market.

Is there a greater different?

For an Amazon speaker, no. And in the event you’re trying to dip your toes into the world of Atmos Music, that is additionally your finest speaker selection. It’s additionally priced at $200. When you’re searching for a extra well-rounded, on a regular basis speaker with the flexibility of each Google and Alexa (and a extra balanced sound signature), the Sonos One is the plain different.

Whereas there hasn’t been a drop to its worth since releasing final fall, it’s price declaring that Amazon does at the moment supply a bundle that packages in a free Philips Hue Bulb.

How lengthy will it final?

The speaker seems to be well-built, and it’s additionally received superior decoding for 3D audio codecs which can be simply starting to take form. If something, it’s a bit of forward of its time.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. When you’re searching for the most effective Amazon Alexa sensible speaker you should purchase — and particularly in the event you’re excited to dive into the most recent musical frontier — the Echo Studio is a straightforward selection.

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